out of Five
Running time: 113
This Polish action/crime drama has some strong performances from its supporting cast and leading man Jakub Gierszal, but its straightforward script requires more work and some scenes and subplots are left dangling.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Piotr Mularuk and taking place after the fall of communism, Yuma tells the story of Zyga (Jakub Gierszal), a Polish kid in his early twenties, who reluctantly becomes a gangster during his search for independence, freedom and control. After crossing to the other side of the river one day, Zyga spies and envies a gang of Germans, who seem to have it all, inspiring him to yearn for a better way of life than his working-class background can provide.
Once home, he rapidly begins to dabble in theft with his friends, soon becoming the Robin Hood of the community, handing out stolen Adidas trainers and RayBans to his peers during a time of Polish uncertainty. With his sleazy auntie, Halinka (Katarzyna Figura), also encouraging him to smuggle cigarettes across the German border, Zyga unwillingly finds his life spiralling out of control, especially when the object of his affection, Majka (Karolina Chapko), is not impressed in the slightest.
There are some notable performances in this action/crime drama, particularly from Jakub Gierszal in the lead, who renders Zyga’s rise to smug confidence with effortless capability. Helena Sujecka also lends a distinguished performance as the friend vying for Zyga’s affection and the rest of the supporting actors do well in creating what is overall a well-directed and gritty drama film.
The story itself is reasonably interesting, referring to a handful of specific political incidents taking place in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall’s collapse, and the soundtrack and score dance well with each turn of events, adding drama and suspense as and when the scenes require. The film’s occasional nods to 1957’s 3:10 to Yuma also add a dose of pleasant nostalgia.
Despite the historical and political nods being of interest, in truth, Yuma is quite a difficult film to digest. The mood is constantly down and some seedy moments (particularly one of the opening scenes, taking place a few years before the main events) are quickly ignored and don’t provide much detailed information of the aftermath, leaving some subplots up in the air. The straightforward script could have also been polished with more care, intricacy and attention.
Yuma is a well-directed, well-acted and occasionally seedy Polish drama with some appealing references, but if you’re after some uncomplicated light entertainment, you might want to give this a miss.